woodchuck (Marmota monax monax)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a large heavy-bodied rodent with a total
length from 20 to 27 inches and a weight from 5 to 10 pounds. It has a short
head, and legs, and short, well-haired ears. They have grizzled or grayish
brown fur above, the belly is paler, and the feet and legs are dark brown to
black. They mate around March just after emerging from hibernation and a
litter of 4-5 young are born in April. They have extensive burrows with
a characteristic mound of fresh dirt at the main entrance. They are up
to 4-5 feet deep and 14-30 feet in length and several are used at different
times. Hibernating dens are in more woody areas, and summer dens are
in fields or grassland. They are true hibernators and feed to fatness in
the summer. They hibernate from October-February. The longevity of
this species is 4-5 years.
DISTRIBUTION: The woodchuck is present everywhere in Virginia
except the eastern shore and the extreme southeastern corner of the state.
This species prefers open woods, brushy areas, and fields, but are occasion-
ally found in dense timber stands as individuals. They use forest edges,
meadow grasslands, blowdowns or other opening in a forest. They usually
build their systems on dry well drained slopes.
FOODS: This species prefers tender, succulent plants, but it will occasion-
ally eat insects, and snails. It eats about 1 1/2 pounds per day, and may eat
over 1/3 its body weight per day.
Crooked Run Valley